Seamen infected with MRSA sue ship owners for $2 million

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jul. 31, 2008, 5:44am

GALVESTON – Two local seamen are suing a ship owner for $2 million for failing to inform them of an allegedly high presence of bacteria on the vessel.

Orben Bounds and Shawn Owens were stricken with a staph infection while they working on the M/V Cheryl K between 2007 and 2008, court papers say.

The personal injury suit against Cheryl K Inc. was filed in the Galveston County 212th District Court on July 25.

"The M/V Cheryl K was inhabited with a virulent form of staph, called MRSA," the suit says, adding the medical problem does not have a cure and is potentially fatal.

"Plaintiffs were injured while performing their duties as Jones Act seamen aboard one such vessel while completing a job in inland water of Texas," the complaint says.

It further explains "the owners and the operators of the vessel knew of this problem."

"Many of the workers came down with staph infections during this time," court papers state. "Plaintiffs are among the workers who suffered some of the most severe infections."

The suit, which also names the ship as a defendant, argues the defendants failed to address the situation.

"Instead, defendants continuously put plaintiffs, and many other workers, in harm's way," it says.

Bounds and Owens reportedly "have suffered multiple infections to their extremities, backs, and other parts of their bodies." The original petition describes the infections as "extremely debilitating."

Cheryl K Inc. and its namesake ship are generally accused of general maritime negligence, unseaworthiness, and failure to pay maintenance and cure.

Consequently, the plaintiffs, who are represented by attorney Chad Pinkerton of The Pinkerton Law Firm PLLC in Webster, seek damages to compensate for physical pain and impairment, mental anguish, medical expenses, loss wages, and disfigurement.

The plaintiffs have requested for a trial by jury.

Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 08CV0798

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